Another day, another climate change-induced wildfire. Tens of thousands of acres of forest near Saint-Tropez have been scorched by a ruthless wildfire that started making its way through the French Riviera on Monday, Aug. 16. The flames were ignited by unusually hot and dry conditions, and further spread by strong winds from the Mediterranean Sea. Already, thousands of tourists and locals have been evacuated and several have been injured.
The fires continued spreading through Wednesday, Aug. 18, with thousands of firefighters working to extinguish the flames.
"The worst has been avoided, we must remain humble in the face of these events," French President Emmanuel Macron stated, as per Reuters. "Climate disturbances will lead to more such fires."
The French Riviera fires have evacuated thousands of tourists and locals.
French Riviera tourists were anticipating a hot summer vacation, though this wasn't what they had in mind. A wildfire that started 24 miles inland from Saint-Tropez on Monday scorched 17,300 acres of forested hills across Provence's southeast coast by Wednesday, per AP News. 10,000 were evacuated to temporary shelters from their homes or hotels, about 27 have sustained injuries, and two were killed in a home that burned down near the town of Grimaud. The bodies have since been identified.
“Around midnight, someone knocked at our door and told us to take our belongings and leave. At the end of the alley, we could see the red flames,” Vassili Bartoletti, who was staying at a campground with his family, told AP News. "So we left hastily."
His 6-year-old was nervous, but he reassured him they would be fine. “I showed him the map. I showed him we were far away, that we’ve been moved to a safe place in Bormes-Les-Mimosas," he said.
Over 1,100 firefighters were brought to the scene to extinguish the fire, and water-bombing planes were deployed, filling up with water from the Gulf of Saint-Tropez. Reinforcements from other parts of France and the Mediterranean have been sent out, to help firefighters on the ground. And while we hope they can successfully extinguish the flames sooner rather than later, the fires are expected to continue with hotter and dryer days in the forecast — yikes.
Fires have been a huge problem in the Mediterranean this summer.
Although the weather in the Mediterranean tends to be quite pleasant in the summertime, the wildfires have been especially bad this year, making for serious trouble in paradise. Turkey has been suffering from major wildfires for several weeks, with firefighters coming in from Spain and other nearby regions. The Italian island of Sardinia was also engulfed in flames at the end of July, which destroyed homes and ecosystems across the usually relaxed island.
Likewise, horrific fires outside of Jerusalem have put the Israeli capital in serious danger this past week, though the flames now seem to be under control.
Hopefully these types of wildfires won't become a regular happening in the gorgeous western European region, but they likely will be exacerbated as climate change continues to get worse.